The Memory Garden , by Mary Rickert (Sourcebooks; paperback, $14.99), presents a disheveled, magical garden of shoes filled with flowers and old ghosts. These restless spirits haunt Nan, an old woman who takes care of her adopted daughter, Bay. During holidays and birthday celebrations the veil between this world and the other one becomes thinner, and Bay discovers the secret powers she was born with. But Nan and her friends must convince Bay that the term “witch” is nothing to be frightened of. Rickert writes with a blend of poetical language and dark suspense as the women go back into their own murky histories and tell Bay about the girl they once lost because of their unbelief. “The Memory Garden” is a tale of tragedy, hope and kinship.
Early in Glen Hirshberg’s Motherless Child (Tor, $24.99), two single mothers, Natalie and Sophie, fall for the charms of an enigmatic musician called the Whistler. After spending a delirious night with him, the women flee, now branded with a vampiric blood lust. Once Natalie realizes what has happened, she tells her mother to hide her son and Sophie’s son and disappear. Then Natalie and Sophie run from town to town, seeking victims while fighting their hunger in hopes of being reunited with their children someday. In the meantime, the Whistler’s seductive and powerful vampire-mother is jealous of Natalie and goes on the hunt. The final standoff will leave readers breathless before the unyielding, passionate sacrifices these women are willing to make to keep their children safe.
In Sarah Lotz’s The Three (Little, Brown, $26), several horrible plane crashes take place around the world on the same day. Three children are, miraculously, the only survivors of these disasters — except for one dying woman who records a message for her pastor to “watch the boy.” As the children are whisked away to trauma care centers, the pastor takes the dying woman’s message to heart and begins to question the mysterious nature of the crashes. After the authorities rule out mechanical failure or terrorism, the pastor spins an apocalyptic myth about the three surviving children, calling them the horsemen of the apocalypse. His claims soon gain fanatics willing to defend the kingdom of God, while the children exhibit eerie personality changes. “The Three” is a spellbinding tale of science fiction, religious fervor and media madness that make us wonder who, exactly, are the monsters.
Hightower reviews science fiction and fantasy for The Post every month.